Spermicide for Birth Control
A spermicide is a substance that kills sperm. Spermicides are available as jelly, foam, cream, suppositories, and film. The active ingredient of most spermicides is a chemical called nonoxynol-9.
Most spermicides come with an applicator. The applicator is filled with spermicide and inserted into the vagina right before intercourse.
One application of spermicide is necessary for each act of sexual intercourse.
A nonprescription method
Spermicide use does not require a prescription or a visit to a health professional. Spermicide is sold in drugstores, grocery stores, and family planning clinics.
Spermicide and a condom used together provide a reasonable level of birth control without a prescription. Using spermicide alone is not recommended because it offers poor pregnancy prevention and does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In fact, the nonoxynol-9 in most spermicides may increase the risk of getting HIV/AIDS from an infected partner.
Effectiveness in preventing pregnancy
The most effective strength spermicide contains at least 100 mg of nonoxynol-9 per dose. You are more likely to get pregnant if you use a weaker spermicide. There is no difference in effectiveness between various spermicide types, such as gel, film, or suppository.1
Typical use failure rate includes all possible users, including people who are careless and those who use a method perfectly every time. Perfect use failure rate includes only people who use a method perfectly every time.
Vaginal douching is not considered a birth control method even if it is done with spermicides. Douching after intercourse does not prevent sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes, where fertilization takes place.
Effectiveness in preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Spermicides used alone do not protect against STDs, including infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). You must use a condom for the best possible STD protection.
Most spermicides contain a chemical called nonoxynol-9 (N9). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that N9 in vaginal contraceptives and spermicides may irritate the lining of the vagina or rectum. This may increase the risk of getting HIV/AIDS from an infected partner.
Advantages of spermicides
Disadvantages of spermicides
Failure rates for barrier methods are higher than for most other methods of birth control. Other disadvantages include the following:
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.